Mountain Chic

Reflections and observations on culture, food, style and travel


In May, I was reading my favorite Sunset Magazine, and came across this feature about Bigfork, Montana.  Our family had yet to plan a summer vacation, and since we’d just traveled to Mexico in March, we knew we wanted a place other than the beach.

We love being outdoors as much as we love arts and culture, and according to the feature in Sunset, Bigfork seemed to offer the best of both worlds.  The town is close to Glacier National Park and hugs the shores of Flathead Lake, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the nation.  Bigfork has been named “One of the Best 100 Small Art Towns” in the country, as well as “One of the 50 Great Towns of the West” – both claims sounded encouraging to us!  We purchased plane tickets to Missoula, the closest airport to Bigfork (and still about 2 hours away), and began hunting for lodging and planning our activities.

Where We Stayed

We’re big fans of renting condos when we travel, especially when we bring Finn along.  He gets his own room so we can hang out together after we put him to bed.  Also, we like to eat breakfasts and lunches at home, saving splurges for dinners out.  We found our condo on VRBO, our favorite lodging resource, but options were limited.  Bigfork is a tiny town, so dozens of lodging options just don’t exist.  After many inquiries, we had two viable lodging options – one in town, and the other, which we took, was a condo on the Eagle Bend Golf Course.

Our condo was lovely and had everything we needed, though my husband commented that it “didn’t feel very much like Montana.”  This was true.  When we think Montana, we think rustic log cabin.  However, Finn thought the golf course right outside our back door was amazing.  Every night, he’d go out for a run on the green, collecting splintered tees and spare balls – telling us he was “playing golf”. So though our adult perspective was slightly scornful of the location, Finn was in heaven.  And for peace and relaxation, our space was perfect.  Though we’d had a choice to stay right in town, we didn’t take it because we weren’t sure if the town would be too noisy for our toddler.  After visiting, we are certain staying in town would be just fine – there just isn’t enough action for the town to be loud.  But we didn’t know, and so we played it safe.

What We Did

Though Bigfork is small, the cultural life is, well, big.  On the weekend we arrived, the town hosted the Bigfork Festival of the Arts, featuring dozens of artists, food trucks and live music.

The Bigfork Summer Playhouse is a renowned theater company – many of their shows were sold out while we were there, though we didn’t get a chance to attend a performance.

FinnAndMeCorndogsSign

Every Sunday, the town hosts the Riverbend Concert Series, outdoor shows right next to the river and (Finn’s favorite part) a playground!

 

ConcertFinnDancing

Where We Ate

Quite stunningly, it was impossible to find a bad meal in Bigfork!  We befriended a local while we waited for a takeout pizza to cook at The Village Roost.  He told us the culinary scene in Bigfork is quite competitive, much to the enjoyment of the locals’ palates.  We found his declaration to be true – the food was amazing at every restaurant.  We consulted both TripAdvisor and Yelp reviews before settling on destinations.  Our favorites:

Moroldo’s served some of the finest Italian food we’ve eaten anywhere, including in Italy!  The chef, Italian Fabrizio Moroldo, greeted us at our table and invited Finn to the kitchen for cookies.  We tried three different pastas and two wines, and all were extraordinary.

We were skeptical when we walked into The Village Roost to order takeout pizza for our picnic at the Riverbend Concert.  The place had all the appearances of a legit dive bar, including a wall mural complete with music greats past and present.  But the pizza was awesome – better than most anything we’ve had in Denver.

Flathead Brewing Company served solid bar food and delicious beer, though true to resort town form the service was lacking.

We ate more amazing pizza at When In Rome.

We also loved Kiska’s, The Raven Brewpub & Grill, and, in Lakeside, Montana, the Tamarack Brewery.

The food in Bigfork was the most pleasant surprise of the trip.  I love to cook and we rarely eat out at home.  When I’m on vacation, allowing someone else to cook and clean for me is the ultimate luxury.  When the food is inspirational and delicious, it makes the experience that much sweeter.

While the fabulous food was unexpected, we knew we’d have awesome adventures in Montana, both hiking on land and fun in the water.  In the third and final post about our Montana trip tomorrow, I’ll talk more about our adventures, including Finn’s first experience on a boat!

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